There’s no time of year like the holidays to put pressure on our personal finances. At times, our expenses feel as though they’re being stretched in several directions all at once, fuelled by spending on gifts, socializing, dining, drinks, and travel.
This year, instead of stressing about your holiday spending, do yourself a favour and follow these helpful holiday budgeting tips. You can also read our earlier blog post for more advice on how to manage holiday spending.
Don’t wait until the last minute – build your budget early
Proper preparation is essential to every good holiday budget. Take the time to plan your primary purchases in advance, and you’ll be able to avoid the type of unwanted spending surprises that tend to come with panicked trips to the store on the eve of the holidays.
The essential first step is deciding how much you can afford to spend. Next, list all the things you need to buy, such as gifts, food, clothes, decorations, or tickets for travel, and calculate the total cost of those items. From there, the balancing act begins.
Remember that prices for some things on your list, such as unique, high-demand gifts or tickets for travel, will fluctuate over time and typically increase as the holidays approach. Buying items at the right time might save you several hundred dollars or more.
Reduce spending by re-using items, or find ways to use what you already have
Before you head out to buy anything, whether it’s food, gifts, or decorations, take stock of what you’ve already got on hand, and see what you can still put to use.
Most of us have one or more leftover items from last year’s celebrations, or things we’ve collected over time. Some of these items, such as unwanted or unused gift cards, make great stocking stuffers or small gifts for friends and colleagues.
Especially if money is tight, you don’t have to feel bad about re-gifting – there’s nothing wrong with saving a few bucks by finding a better use for an item that’s gathering dust in your home. If you’d rather not re-gift, consider selling your unwanted items through an online marketplace – you might find it makes your holiday budgeting a whole lot easier!
Search for sales, deals coupons, and discount codes
Every dollar counts when it comes to making your holiday budget work, so look for any opportunity you can to cut costs. Check for discount codes when purchasing online, especially around Black Friday/Cyber Monday, and inquire at your workplace about any group discount deals you may be eligible for.
Another key step is to download a price comparison app to your phone so you can easily find the best places to buy stuff cheap. If possible, look for opportunities to team up with a friend to get a better deal on bulk purchases.
Offset holiday travel costs by renting out your home
Travelling over the holidays tends to be expensive, but one way to recover some of the cost of getting away is to rent out your home while you’re away.
Some serious planning and preparation is necessary to generate the maximum potential earning power from your vacant property. Still, the income can be seriously helpful at a time of year when many of us could use some extra cash.
Stay disciplined and resist the urge to overdo it
As the holidays draw near, many of us feel obliged to buy more than we really need, stocking up on certain items or searching for the elusive ‘perfect’ gift. More often than not, however, we end up buying more than is necessary. Stick to your plan and don’t buy things you don’t need, or won’t use.